But I pray that I don't actually ever need to use it.
January 29, 2014 6:30 AM   Subscribe

I need help figuring out health insurance.

In the course of the past seven years, I have lived in five countries across four continents. I have been employed some of the time, living in a country with universal health insurance part of the time, and had state insurance part of the time. I am now in a country where I am not a citizen, working on a freelance basis, and praying to Aisha that I don't get seriously ill.

Does anyone have experience being a foreigner somewhere and purchasing health insurance? I am completely overwhelmed by Google search results. This question is similar, but I think it's not the same because I'm not traveling around, I'm just an expat. So basically, I want to know:

-Insurance companies that have insured you while you've been an expatriate, with complete coverage, and including evacuation insurance (is that even what you call it?) in case you need to be airlifted to somewhere with proper medical facilities.
-Can I purchase, say, health insurance from a private British company if I'm not a British national and don't live in Britain?
-If I move to another country and/or continent, does that void my insurance? Or is this something that varies and I just need to check with each insurance company?
-Is this something entirely different from life insurance?
-Is there anything glaringly obvious that I should know that I've left out of my question?

posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I lived in Asia for a while and at one point had health insurance from BUPA. For emergency evacuation there's International SOS. Both are major int'l companies s and provide coverage regardless of nationality.
With BUPA as I recall the basic idea was, you have to state which country you are living in then can choose a list of countries/regions where you're still covered if you happen to be travelling there. Excluding the US makes it a lot cheaper.
posted by mono blanco at 6:53 AM on January 29, 2014

You're a US citizen? I'd look into something like GeoBlue. You could pay around $150-200 USD a month for international coverage. Evacuation insurance is separate and ISOS, as mentioned above, is basically the leader in this coverage.

You need to keep in mind that whatever insurance you end up purchasing, you will likely need to pay out-of-pocket at the time of service, and file a claim through your insurance for reimbursement. Unfortunately, this means you should make sure you have a good savings account with international access or a few credit cards with high limits saved for medical emergencies like this.
posted by fontophilic at 7:00 AM on January 29, 2014

No, being non US makes it a lot easier.

(If you were a US citizen you'd possibly have to purchase ACA-minimum requirement meeting insurance should you live in the US for some number of months in a given year or face a tax penalty.)

Oh, and I forgot to address your 4th question. Yes, this is very different from life insurance. Life insurance should be called death insurance, but I think they'd have a hard time selling that. Life insurance pays out a benefit to your survivors/named beneficiaries at the time of your death. The main kind of life insurance you'd purchase would be a term-life policy. The idea is to roughly wipe out your debts to protect your assets to create an inheritance for your survivors, and possibly provide for your survivors future needs (such as a college fund for children).

Generally speaking, single, childless people who don't own property and have enough savings to pay for a funeral don't need life insurance. But you should still have a will.
posted by fontophilic at 8:15 AM on January 29, 2014

What is your nationality? It is 100% not possible to answer this question without this information.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:35 AM on January 29, 2014

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
My nationality is Ghanaian.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on January 29, 2014

I imagine your available coverage will depend on where you are considered a resident. Insurance law is very jurisdiction-specific (not just on the country level, but also on the state/province level). Can the company legally sell you a policy? In the US, an insurance company often can't sell a policy to a person in another state. Can you live in your current country without a policy that meets certain standards. In Germany, for example, most expat or travel insurance policies don't meet their minimum health insurance requirements for residency.

Where do you live? What type of visa do you have? How long do you plan to stay there?
posted by melissasaurus at 10:05 AM on January 29, 2014

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